Designing for Dementia


  • 4pm

  • Evolution House, Design Informatics Studio (T-Room, Level 2)
    78 West Port
    Edinburgh
    EH1 2LE

Free and open to all. Part of the 2017/18 Design Informatics Seminar series.

No Substitute for Human Touch?  Technology, Subjectivity & Dementia From a ‘Posthuman’ Perspective

Led by Nick Jenkins, University of the West of Scotland

Advances in the availability and sophistication of ‘assistive technologies’ (AT) for people with dementia create important opportunities to challenge both what it means to be Human as well as what it means to care within 21st century techno-mediated societies. Mainstream approaches to the design of AT in dementia tend to reflect liberal humanist aspirations, centred around the promotion of independent, autonomous individuals capable of living well with dementia and made possible through the provision of personalised products and support services.  Drawing on theorising within the posthumanities as well as empirical data from the Dementia Dogs Pilot (2012-2016), this seminar seeks to outline an alternative set of design aspirations - ones focused on cyborgism (Haraway 1991) and symbiosism in dementia as opposed to individualism. It concludes with the suggestion that existing AT initiatives and agendas may be ‘hacked’ so as to create space for alterity, playfulness and of new ways of becoming with (Haraway 2008) in dementia.

Dr Nicholas Jenkins is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology & Social Policy at the University of the West of Scotland’s School of Media, Culture & Society. His training is in the sociology of health & illness and he has been researching dementia since 2012. He has worked with the Scottish Dementia Working Group (www.sdwg.org) since 2014 and has assisted the SDWG in developing and applying their Core Principles for involving people with dementia in research as well as in facilitating the Group’s participation in the Editorial Board for Dementia: International Journal of Social Research & Practice.  His research into the use of participatory vignettes to explore lived experiences of ‘early onset’ dementia (diagnosis pre-65) was shortlisted for the Sociology SAGE Prize for Innovation & Excellence 2017.  He is a former Academic Editor of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One and is currently a member of the Associate Editorial Board for Sociological Research Online (SRO).

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